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Why Video Game Movies Always Come Up Short

Why Video Game Movies Always Come Up Short

I like video games.

That shouldn’t be a shocking statement if you’ve read the other articles I have on the site. I even dedicated an entire article just to talking about old Adobe flash games that I played as a child. I also like movies, and my blog on my website *shameless plug* covers movies quite a bit.

Naturally, this predisposed me to watch a whole bunch of video game movies over the years. The many films came rushing back to me as I watched the latest trailer for the new Mortal Kombat movie, and this question kept coming back to me:

Are we ever gonna see a good video game movie?

Sure, we’ve had enjoyable video game movies—your Sonic The Hedgehogs, Lara Crofts, Mortal Kombat, if you will. And there are films and games that pair together to tell a bigger story. But there’s also been the god awful—Street Fighter, Super Mario Bros., and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation to name a few. None of these have been good in my view. The highest I’d rate them would be a below-average or average grade. 

All of this kept running through my head as I was watching the trailer, and my excitement for the movie started to slowly leak out of my body the more I watched. I realized I’d been here before, excited to watch the latest video game movie thinking ‘this’ll be the one’, only for it to turn out like it always does: hollow and disappointing. I asked myself why this is the case, and I reckon I’ve got a pretty good idea why.

You can’t play a movie.

I mean, of course, you can’t play a movie, but that’s beside the point.

The interaction audiences have with movies and video games is quite different. Movies are mostly passive unless you decide to pass the TV remote between your mates. In contrast, video games are generally one of the most audience-interactive modes of entertainment we have.   

A lot of AAA games developed these days have production values on par with most modern movies. However, I believe that video games’ interactivity lends more weight to the experience because it’s you controlling the events instead of just being along for the ride. I think this is always there in the back of gamers’ minds when they’re watching these video game movies. 

It would make sense that when you watch the Tomb Raider movies, you’re reminded of all the action set pieces you’ve played through. You’re inevitably going to compare them to the scenes in the movie. Thus, most of the time you’ve either seen it before and played it in the game or it’s just not as exciting as the game.

This interactivity also allows video games to connect with audiences in a completely different way compared to a movie’s passive nature. The best way to explain this would be by using an example. Let’s just pick a random game as an example…

Ah yes, Yager Development’s 2011 underrated gem Spec Ops: The Line, that’ll do nicely. (This choice isn’t surprising for those that know me considering I recommend this game to everyone any chance I get.) Spec Ops is a great example of how video games’ stories are inherently unique to the medium.

For the purposes of this post, I’m only going to be looking at the game’s story because the gameplay isn’t anything to write home about, and that’s not what I’m talking about today.

In Spec Ops, you follow Captain Martin Walker as he and his fireteam of Delta operators travel through a sandstorm-ravaged Dubai. They’re searching for a way out of the city when they discover survivors of the storm and are fired upon. This inciting incident leads Walker and his team along an inexorable path in a downward spiral as they delve deeper and deeper into the city. This concludes in a hideous maelstrom of violence and death as the player’s control over Walker is called into question. Players becoming unwitting passengers as the war crimes start piling up.

This basic plot isn’t anything groundbreaking or revolutionary. The developers are very open about their inspirations from Apocalypse Now and Heart of Darkness. Where the game’s story takes on a new level is when the player’s direct interactions with the game world are used to show the state of Walker’s fractured psyche.

At this point, I’m going to be talking spoilers for the game, and there are also some images that some of you may find distressing.

The best example of this is towards the end of the story when any semblance of buddy-buddy warfare has crumbled along with the squad’s mental state. Your squad member Lugo was hanged by civilians in a refugee camp. Walker and Adams are surrounded by the civilians, and the player can choose to fire into the air to scare off the civilians or gun them down without mercy. This choice may not look like much, but if we were a passive observer (like with a movie), we can’t know what kind of options Walker has. This would stop us from being able to analyze his actions with as much depth as we can as the interactive player.

See, that’s the thing. The fact we control the characters and make decisions for them gives us an insight into the characters that we can’t get from watching a movie portraying the same events.

However, this control being taken away from us in-game is also a way games can affect us on a much deeper level than movies can. Going back to Spec Ops, specifically the white phosphorus scene, Walker and the player encounter heavy enemy resistance outside The Nest. At this point in the game, the mission for Walker has morphed from fleeing Dubai to rescuing civilians held past The Nest. The team knows that they can’t win a straight firefight against that, and we learn that a mortar is nearby loaded with white phosphorus.

White phosphorus is a horrible chemical that does horrible, unspeakable things to humans when they come into contact with it. I’m not going to list them here; you can look that up in your own time if you so wish. Using the chemical is also a war crime in certain situations. Lugo even states that the team knows what the chemical does and is reluctant to use the weapon, bordering on being insubordinate. He even flat-out states that there’s always a choice, to which Walker replies, “There’s really not.”

We’ve already experienced these movies… every time we pick up the controller. 

This entire dialogue is played out in cutscene, a passive movie-watching experience that cuts away from your interactive gameplay. You can’t stop it. You can’t try and rationalize another way out of the situation. All you can do is watch as Walker commands his squad to set up the mortar and fire on the enemy encampment. However, the game drops back out of the cutscene with you looking upon the battlefield through the targeting system of the mortar, unable to stop until you have killed every last one of the enemies.

Except that not every person at The Nest was an enemy.

Do you feel like a hero yet?

Right at the end of the set-piece, you fire upon a huge mass of people that you believe are enemy combatants. After you walk your team through the scorched earth that you created, watching soldiers try to escape their fates, their screams assaulting you, you’re greeted with a terrible sight—civilians that you had set out to save, their bodies burnt and hollowed out by the white phosphorus.

It’s easily one of the most horrific acts Walker commits in the entire game.

But he wasn’t the one pushing the button and giving the commands.

That honor goes to the same person you see when you look at your screen right now.

That person is you.

That scene, more than any other in the game, shows how games draw the player in and can put them in the character’s headspace so easily. Movies just can’t get close to that experience.

That’s why I don’t think we’re ever going to get a good video game movie. Because we’ve already experienced these movies… every time we pick up the controller.     

Do you have a favorite video game movie? What movie game franchise do you want to see on the big screen next? Let me know down below.

Author’s Note:

This post delved into some pretty dark subject matter. If that’s dredged up some stuff for you on a personal level, know there are always people on hand to help you through it.

All around the globe, there are countless organisations there to help you through any tough times you may be having. You can link here to search for a mental health organisation in your country.

Stay safe and I’ll catch you all next time. -Rohan

 

Why Video Game Movies Always Come Up Short

Why Video Game Movies Always Come Up Short

I like video games.

That shouldn’t be a shocking statement if you’ve read the other articles I have on the site. I even dedicated an entire article just to talking about old Adobe flash games that I played as a child. I also like movies, and my blog on my website *shameless plug* covers movies quite a bit.

Naturally, this predisposed me to watch a whole bunch of video game movies over the years. The many films came rushing back to me as I watched the latest trailer for the new Mortal Kombat movie, and this question kept coming back to me:

Are we ever gonna see a good video game movie?

Sure, we’ve had enjoyable video game movies—your Sonic The Hedgehogs, Lara Crofts, Mortal Kombat, if you will. And there are films and games that pair together to tell a bigger story. But there’s also been the god awful—Street Fighter, Super Mario Bros., and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation to name a few. None of these have been good in my view. The highest I’d rate them would be a below-average or average grade. 

All of this kept running through my head as I was watching the trailer, and my excitement for the movie started to slowly leak out of my body the more I watched. I realized I’d been here before, excited to watch the latest video game movie thinking ‘this’ll be the one’, only for it to turn out like it always does: hollow and disappointing. I asked myself why this is the case, and I reckon I’ve got a pretty good idea why.

You can’t play a movie.

I mean, of course, you can’t play a movie, but that’s beside the point.

The interaction audiences have with movies and video games is quite different. Movies are mostly passive unless you decide to pass the TV remote between your mates. In contrast, video games are generally one of the most audience-interactive modes of entertainment we have.   

A lot of AAA games developed these days have production values on par with most modern movies. However, I believe that video games’ interactivity lends more weight to the experience because it’s you controlling the events instead of just being along for the ride. I think this is always there in the back of gamers’ minds when they’re watching these video game movies. 

It would make sense that when you watch the Tomb Raider movies, you’re reminded of all the action set pieces you’ve played through. You’re inevitably going to compare them to the scenes in the movie. Thus, most of the time you’ve either seen it before and played it in the game or it’s just not as exciting as the game.

This interactivity also allows video games to connect with audiences in a completely different way compared to a movie’s passive nature. The best way to explain this would be by using an example. Let’s just pick a random game as an example…

Ah yes, Yager Development’s 2011 underrated gem Spec Ops: The Line, that’ll do nicely. (This choice isn’t surprising for those that know me considering I recommend this game to everyone any chance I get.) Spec Ops is a great example of how video games’ stories are inherently unique to the medium.

For the purposes of this post, I’m only going to be looking at the game’s story because the gameplay isn’t anything to write home about, and that’s not what I’m talking about today.

In Spec Ops, you follow Captain Martin Walker as he and his fireteam of Delta operators travel through a sandstorm-ravaged Dubai. They’re searching for a way out of the city when they discover survivors of the storm and are fired upon. This inciting incident leads Walker and his team along an inexorable path in a downward spiral as they delve deeper and deeper into the city. This concludes in a hideous maelstrom of violence and death as the player’s control over Walker is called into question. Players becoming unwitting passengers as the war crimes start piling up.

This basic plot isn’t anything groundbreaking or revolutionary. The developers are very open about their inspirations from Apocalypse Now and Heart of Darkness. Where the game’s story takes on a new level is when the player’s direct interactions with the game world are used to show the state of Walker’s fractured psyche.

At this point, I’m going to be talking spoilers for the game, and there are also some images that some of you may find distressing.

The best example of this is towards the end of the story when any semblance of buddy-buddy warfare has crumbled along with the squad’s mental state. Your squad member Lugo was hanged by civilians in a refugee camp. Walker and Adams are surrounded by the civilians, and the player can choose to fire into the air to scare off the civilians or gun them down without mercy. This choice may not look like much, but if we were a passive observer (like with a movie), we can’t know what kind of options Walker has. This would stop us from being able to analyze his actions with as much depth as we can as the interactive player.

See, that’s the thing. The fact we control the characters and make decisions for them gives us an insight into the characters that we can’t get from watching a movie portraying the same events.

However, this control being taken away from us in-game is also a way games can affect us on a much deeper level than movies can. Going back to Spec Ops, specifically the white phosphorus scene, Walker and the player encounter heavy enemy resistance outside The Nest. At this point in the game, the mission for Walker has morphed from fleeing Dubai to rescuing civilians held past The Nest. The team knows that they can’t win a straight firefight against that, and we learn that a mortar is nearby loaded with white phosphorus.

White phosphorus is a horrible chemical that does horrible, unspeakable things to humans when they come into contact with it. I’m not going to list them here; you can look that up in your own time if you so wish. Using the chemical is also a war crime in certain situations. Lugo even states that the team knows what the chemical does and is reluctant to use the weapon, bordering on being insubordinate. He even flat-out states that there’s always a choice, to which Walker replies, “There’s really not.”

We’ve already experienced these movies… every time we pick up the controller. 

This entire dialogue is played out in cutscene, a passive movie-watching experience that cuts away from your interactive gameplay. You can’t stop it. You can’t try and rationalize another way out of the situation. All you can do is watch as Walker commands his squad to set up the mortar and fire on the enemy encampment. However, the game drops back out of the cutscene with you looking upon the battlefield through the targeting system of the mortar, unable to stop until you have killed every last one of the enemies.

Except that not every person at The Nest was an enemy.

Do you feel like a hero yet?

Right at the end of the set-piece, you fire upon a huge mass of people that you believe are enemy combatants. After you walk your team through the scorched earth that you created, watching soldiers try to escape their fates, their screams assaulting you, you’re greeted with a terrible sight—civilians that you had set out to save, their bodies burnt and hollowed out by the white phosphorus.

It’s easily one of the most horrific acts Walker commits in the entire game.

But he wasn’t the one pushing the button and giving the commands.

That honor goes to the same person you see when you look at your screen right now.

That person is you.

That scene, more than any other in the game, shows how games draw the player in and can put them in the character’s headspace so easily. Movies just can’t get close to that experience.

That’s why I don’t think we’re ever going to get a good video game movie. Because we’ve already experienced these movies… every time we pick up the controller.     

Do you have a favorite video game movie? What movie game franchise do you want to see on the big screen next? Let me know down below.

Author’s Note:

This post delved into some pretty dark subject matter. If that’s dredged up some stuff for you on a personal level, know there are always people on hand to help you through it.

All around the globe, there are countless organisations there to help you through any tough times you may be having. You can link here to search for a mental health organisation in your country.

Stay safe and I’ll catch you all next time. -Rohan

 

The Future of the MCU

The Future of the MCU

The MCU. Love it or hate it, you simply can’t deny its effect on how movies have changed thanks to its “planning way ahead of time” strategy. Let’s be fair here, other big franchises are trying to do exactly what the MCU has done successfully. 

10 years of character, story, and world-building came together in Infinity War and Endgame and once it all came to a conclusion some people rightfully asked: ‘What now?’ I am one of those people who blindly believe in their favorite creators and let me tell you… I wholeheartedly believe in Kevin Feige. He is an absolute genius in my eyes. And trust me, I don’t call many people that. So even when they started announcing the new MCU titles I cheered like a 5-year old even though I had never heard of some of them and a few just seem downright strange. (Doctor Strange… get it? Not funny? Fine.) WandaVision was one of the titles where I was like: ‘I don’t know how I feel about this’.

Truth is that I’ve never really cared about Wanda or Vision on the same level as I cared for Captain America (who’s my absolute favorite) or Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Spidey and I could go on. It’s not that I disliked their characters oh no… no. I can assure you that I wept like a child at the end of Infinity War. I also adore Elisabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany, but logically, Vision’s dead, and Wanda is grieving so what could this show possibly be about and how are they back together and why does it look like a sitcom and there were so many more questions. Then it simply arrived on Disney Plus and officially blew away almost everyone who sat down and watched it every Friday.

Still for the final episode of WandaVision

The care that went into the story and the building of this post-blip era showed from the beginning to the end. Wanda’s struggle and how they chose to tell her story after losing everyone she loved is probably the smartest decision they’ve ever made at the MCU and it was the perfect opening to Phase 4 without any question or doubt. I think one quote from the series says it all: 


What is grief, if not love persevering?” 

WandaVision closed down its run perfectly by leaving open many questions and creating new possibilities for the future. So what is the future of the MCU? 

By the time this article sees the light of day, it is highly possible that the next chapter of the MCU has already started its run with ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’. Yet another TV Show with Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan returning as the titular heroes and probably the best duo on screen. If you want to watch something funny dear readers, you should watch interviews with Mackie and Stan because they are absolutely hilarious together so I am expecting some great laughs from them. How their story will affect phase 4 is another interesting question. We left them at the crucial moment where Steve Rogers handed his shield to Sam (The Falcon). We also know that Winter Soldier and Falcon are not exactly friends (the co-worker’s promo hints at this even more and it’s hilarious) and that they might have a bit of a harder time working together (I am sensing a type of buddy-comedy that I am honestly dying to see). I personally LOVE that Zemo (Daniel Brühl) from Civil War is back. I think he is definitely in the top 5 MCU villains list (even if we could argue whether he is a villain or not). It will be interesting to see how he has changed since we last saw him. The fact that he chose a purple mask to instill fear in people by evoking Thanos already gives away a bit of his character. The question with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is how much connectivity will it have to WandaVision and then how will later projects connect with it. I mean, sure, this is the question in every case when it comes to the MCU, but I believe that now that we have the TV shows next to the movies and the knowledge that WandaVision will heavily connect to Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel, and Spiderman… well, it begs the question. Are we getting even more connections than we are used to? Will there be an even bigger web to unfold when it comes to connecting the lines? Let’s look at it this way. 

WandaVision -> Other projects -> confirmed connection 

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier -> Other projects -> High possibility of connection 

Loki -> Other projects -> Big question 

Let’s stop here. We know that Loki is the very same Loki who got away with the tesseract when the time heist went a bit wrong on Tony, Steve, Scott, and Bruce’s end. Therefore, if we go by what they said about time travel and its rules in Endgame, it means that whatever happens with Loki happens on a different timeline meaning that it won’t have an effect on what happens in other MCU titles. Unless they pull a trick on us, logically Loki is a standalone series that’s bringing back everyone’s favorite God of Mischief. I might be completely wrong and then you are free to refer back to this article if I go into denial.

 
Another title that we can be pretty sure about is Black Widow. Sure there are theories out there (mine included) but as far as we are all concerned Black Widow takes place before Natasha becomes an Avenger. It will also be the first MCU movie to drop in Phase 4 so I’m just saying, anything is possible. 

We have two more familiar faces showing up this year. Hawkeye with his series and Spiderman with his movie. Hawkeye is still a bit of a mystery and we know that Kate Bishop will enter the MCU through it (played by the amazing Hailee Steinfeld) but story-wise they are keeping everything a secret. Spiderman, however, will possibly be our first official look into the multiverse if we believe all the casting news of course. News? Or just rumors? Or even better an elaborate marketing campaign to get people even more hyped (even if I don’t know how that could be possible)? 

What really interests me are the new heroes that will get introduced this year. Shang-Chi, the master of Kung Fu, will be the first one to arrive. He first appeared in 1973 in Marvel Comics but his first solo comic didn’t come out until 1983. Seeing his story come to life in the MCU opens new possibilities for them to expand their world in a new direction. It will be interesting to see how he will become part of the Avengers team or if he will become part of the team at all. 

The other newcomers this year who will open a completely new world will be the Eternals. Their story is one of the greatest from Marvel and I have to be honest, it’s one of my personal favorites next to Captain America.  When they announced it and when Angelina Jolie stepped on the stage, I almost fainted. Jolie is something of a hero for me and I look up to her in many respects, so I think I can safely say that I am very VERY excited to see this movie. There’s one more actor they cast in this movie that I am really excited about, Ma Dong-Seok. Being a major Korean cinema fan, it was mind-blowing to see him among the cast. He is an excellent actor and I would highly recommend checking out his work in other movies including Train to Busan (Busanhaeng). Important to note is the arrival of the first deaf superhero in the MCU played by Lauren Ridloff who is a well-known deaf actress (The Walking Dead, Sound of Metal). 

Another great thing about Eternals is the director: Chloé Zhao who’s now on a winning streak for her beautiful movie Nomadland. Seeing her step into the director’s chair gives even more hope for this movie (even though we already established that I have blind faith in Marvel :D). 

The cast of Eternals and their director Chloé Zhao at SDCC


The future of the MCU doesn’t stop in 2021 though. We could go on and on about what’s to come and just to give you all a brief look through: 

Captain Marvel 2

Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness

She-Hulk

Blade

Ms. Marvel

Thor: Love and Thunder

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3

What if…?

Secret Invasion

Armor Wars

Black Panther 2

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

If you ask me, a completely biased fan of the MCU, I would say that the future couldn’t be any brighter and that it’s an amazing time to be a fan of these films. Seeing how their shows and films make a lot of people utterly excited and gives them a platform to create theories of their own is beautiful, to say the least. Even the weaker entries into this big build-up are welcomed and will find their footing in the Universe. Knowing that they plan years ahead with their stories and how they build up their characters is what makes them special for me and the reason I trust them, without a doubt. 

It is an amazing time to be a Marvel fan. 

What is your favorite Marvel character and what movie or TV show are you most looking forward to?

 

 

SPOILERS and YOU: A Guide to “Twists”

SPOILERS and YOU: A Guide to “Twists”

Vader is Luke’s bad guy. Rosebud was the name of a 2-hour long question. From the beginning, Bruce Willis was in the movie the WHOLE time. 

We live in a time of SPOILERS everywhere. One of the big questions about it, if you haven’t heard, is “Does knowing the twist of a movie or video game actually ruin the whole story for you? Or was the whole thing only hanging on the twist alone, making the story weak by comparison.”  Well, much like buttholes, everyone has an opinion. And I have a butthole because I’m one of those “everyones.” So, let’s explore my… “opinion” in this article, which I’m certain no one asked for.

Here’s a short story for you to set up the discussion:

A woman walks into a room with a glass of wine, sits next to her husband, and says, “I love you so much. I just want you to know that I couldn’t make it without you.” The husband says, “Is that you talking, or the wine?” The woman says, “Neither. It’s me talking to the wine.” (pause for laughter)

This is an example of subverting expectations, otherwise called “the twist.” This twist is what can be “spoiled” for an audience if they know about it before experiencing it. 

Let’s science this bitch.

Expectation subversion a commonly-used tool in telling jokes. You set up the story and tell it in a way that forces the audience to logically think of how it’s going to end. By the end of it, you have presented a “twist,” forcing the audience to rethink the story and see it in a new way with new information. In joke-telling, you have to make this new information work without the need to think too long about it. It needs to hit quickly, register fast, and invite the audience to laugh at the jab. The audience laughs not because they were tricked but because they feel rewarded for deciphering the information correctly. 

And that’s the word I want you to focus on when it comes to the twist: the REWARD

Ok, lesson over. 

Now my big question: Is giving key information about a story actually spoiling that rewarding experience?

Let’s take that concept of reward and try to contextualize it to a shared experience. Given the subject matter, I believe many people familiar with this website and its contents have completed a little unknown Indie video game called Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. If not, get the hell off the internet and go play this masterpiece of a game and have your life changed forever. NOW! If you prefer to trudge on, please be forewarned: MAJOR ACTUAL SPOILERS AHEAD! Let’s do this.

So after Nathan Drake dies… ok, just kidding (always wanted to do that). 

Zoran Lazarević: A mug only a mother can love… after a whole bottle.

The entirety of Uncharted 2 tells you the story of Nathan Drake and company trying to blah blah blah. If you made it to this part, you know the story. The point is that the focus of the story always sustained itself to one primary objective: finding the Cintamani stone. The only character that actually knew what was going on was the antagonist, Zoran Lazarebitch (great joke, and I don’t know how to do the accented c on my keyboard). When you finally realize what all the cryptic information about the stone actually meant and what it did, it was a proverbial “kick to the nuts.”

I’ll never forget what I felt when Drake said, “You gotta be shittin’ me,” after realizing the stone’s true purpose. When he knew something was up, I knew something was up. When he received the new info, I figured it out with him. Granted, he was quicker than me to grasp the concept, and then he told me, but I was there for the ride every step of the way. WE earned this together. And everything in my soul felt that reward. This is subversion done correctly.

So, for Uncharted 2, is knowing this key information spoiling the rewarding experience?

Well… EVERYTHING about the information gained in your first playthrough affects how you experience the story on the second playthrough. Noticing the twist being foreshadowed throughout the game and putting the information together actually AMPLIFIES the reward felt each time you play it. That’s why so many people play the game multiple times a year even to this day.

That’s why I’d refer to this as “good” subversion.

Now for an example of bad subversion (dun dun duuuuuun). For this one, I’m going to exploit my headache-inducing memory at the expense of making my article work: Game of Thrones’ series ending. (Sorry, Michelle!) Obviously, SPOILERS AHEAD.

Honestly, this would have been an improvement.

Unlike Uncharted 2, the Game of Thrones series is all over the place. There are characters making decisions on things everywhere for different reasons all the time. When they eventually act on those decisions, their actions are arbitrary at best. If you think about their actions for more than half a nanosecond, you’ll notice toward the end of the series that all the characters started acting in different ways (like complete dumbasses) than we recognize because they needed to get to the predetermined (bad) ending the show-runners created. The result was that every character’s decision was forced to trigger that “twist effect.

When the subversion itself is done well, as in Uncharted 2, the media in question gets noticed and elevated to artistic ranks. It’s no wonder why everyone is trying to capitalize on this “expectation subversion” mechanic. But when you continue to do the “expectations” part for years and then “subvert” only in the final minutes, it has an opposite effect on the people taking in the information: they feel no reward and, instead, feel cheated.

So how does knowing Game of Thrones’ key information affecting that rewarding experience?

The setups were cheap thrills that kept me watching through the end of the series but then left me feeling punished for retaining all that info by the end, making me a sad, sad boy. Many current shows are actually guilty of this same tactic. And that’s by design. Not the sucking part, but trying to keep people guessing and then forcing the twist at the end. Bad subversion.

By the way, if you’re loving this topic, dive into it more in this video from Overly Sarcastic Productions, which inspired my article: Trope Talk: Plot Twists.

So, knowing the twist in a story will absolutely change the experience. That said, it can either hurt or enhance your experience. If I spoiled the punch line of the joke at the beginning for you, it wouldn’t have had the same impact. It would have weakened your experience and cheated you out of a laugh. Knowing the end of Uncharted 2 won’t lessen the impact of such an incredible story because you need the whole story for the impact to matter. In contrast, knowing the end to Game of Thrones does spoil the ending because you know that the cheap thrills they give you aren’t leading to a rewarding payoff.

People will experience things differently, that much is known. People also want to have control over how they consume those experiences. When someone changes that organic experience for someone else by forcing information on them about a story, it can rob them of the intended emotions created by the storyteller. Everyone has the right to choose what information they want going into a story, and that’s always fine. But please keep in mind not everyone thinks like you.

As a writer, I create stories that I hope will “wow” the audience. I want the reader to enjoy the journey, and I hope they’ll want to return to that journey and experience a new kind of joy each time. Even if knowing the big “twist” doesn’t ruin their reward, it would deny them that FULL experience I initially intended. It robs them of that gut punch from the reveal, something that storytellers usually work very diligently to create. So, to all the people that get a rise out of spoiling things for others, I say this:  

Don’t be asshats… um… please

You made it to the end! This is for those of you that didn’t TLDR.

 

What stories have you had spoiled for you? Or what are some great, or terrible, twists that you’d like to praise or vent about? Let’s chat in the comments, but let’s try to keep things spoiler-free. (You know, like I didn’t.)

 

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